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Parliamentary questions
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28 August 2015
Answer given by Ms Jourová on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-007588/2015

The Commission is deeply concerned about the increasing incidence of expressions of racism and xenophobia on the Internet and attaches great importance to the need of strengthening EU action in this area.

The Commission acknowledges that, due to its special character, online hate speech creates special demands on enforcement and judicial authorities in terms of expertise, resources and the need for cross-border cooperation(1). Always mindful of the overarching right to freedom of expression, the Commission is currently examining such issues within its work on the implementation of the European Agenda on Security(2) and the Digital Single Market Strategy(3).

Ongoing initiatives at EU level already assist Member States in increasing their knowledge and capacity to combat online hate speech. Among others, the Commission has been holding dedicated discussions and exchanges of good practices with Member States on the issue in the context of its Expert Group on racism and xenophobia(4). In addition, through the new Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme, the Commission supports projects aimed at the development of efficient monitoring and reporting mechanisms for hate crime, with a particular focus on the Internet.

To the extent that the Internet is used to provide audiovisual media services(5), Article 6 of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive(6) requires Member States to ensure, by appropriate means, that audiovisual media services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction do not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion and nationality. The Commission is committed to ensure, within its competences, that Member States observe this obligation.

(1)See report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law, COM(2014) 27 final.
(2)Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, The European Agenda on Security, COM(2015) 185 final.
(3)Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe, COM(2015) 192 final.
(4)More information can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regexpert/index.cfm?do=groupDetail.groupDetail&groupID=2394
(5)An audiovisual media service is a service under the editorial responsibility of a media service provider the principal purpose of which is the provision of programmes.
(6)Directive 2010/13/EC, OJ 2010, L 95, p. 1.

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